Technically it is possible for a game to last more than 24 hours, since after 40 or 60 moves each player generally gets a 30-second increment.

In an endgame, the player with the advantage will just need to be careful of the fifty-move rule and the threefold repetition rule, and he would be able to keep pressing for many many hours hoping that his opponent will crack and make a mistake.

But the problem is: 24 hours after the game has started, the next round would need to start!

So what would happen?

  • Would the entire round be delayed for everyone participating in the event?
  • Would the next round start normally on time for everyone, except for 4 players (including the 2 players playing the problematic game) who would need to wait for the problematic game to end?
  • Would the next round start normally on time for everyone, and the two players who are still playing the problematic game would need to play their next round games while simultaneously continuing the problematic game?
  • Would the arbiters simply decide to end the problematic game, considering it as a draw?
  • Would the FIDE President need to add a new rule to prevent this kind of situation from happening again?
  • 5
    Under the FIDE rule, an arbiter has the right to stop any nonsense game from progressing. Clearly, anybody who plays chess for 24 hours must have nothing better to do in his life. The game will be stopped by the arbiter when he knows both players are just idiots and both of them will get kicked out of the tournament.
    – SmallChess
    Aug 31, 2015 at 4:58
  • 1
    @StudentT Why is this a "nonsense" game? The player with the advantage is fully within his rights to play for victory as slowly as he wishes within the applicable rules. Only if the players are colluding to make it "nonsense" (which doesn't seem to be the question here) can the arbiter intervene. Aug 16, 2016 at 8:33
  • @Post-It-Note It is nonsense because the game would have to continue for several hundred moves. Note that a very long game doesn't last more than 7-8 hours in a normal case, and is about 100 moves, and by then both players are down to increments of ~30s/move. The remaining 16-ish hours of the game would need to take at least ~16x60=960 moves for neither of the players to lose on time. And no reasonable chess game could last that long.
    – Scounged
    Aug 16, 2016 at 9:06
  • 3
    It's common for tournaments to have 2 (or even 3!) games in a day, so the problem arises in a much shorter timeframe. Sometimes the arbiter will let the game finish but give the two players involved a half hour break before having to start their game in the following round.
    – M.M
    Aug 23, 2016 at 22:26

5 Answers 5


Although replies by Brian Towers and StudentT are the right ones (both players would be disqualified) from a theoretical points of view it would be possible that a game has not ended in time for the next round to begin. I would even say that it's possible that it could actually happen in a tournament with 3 rounds per day.

I case it would happen I guess the game would be adjourned by the arbiters. The entire round would not be delayed/cancelled, but the result would be considered to be a draw for pairing purposes only. See General handling rules for Swiss Tournaments, point D.1, and Laws of Chess, point E.1.a.

From Laws of Chess

If a game is not finished at the end of the time prescribed for play, the arbiter shall require the player having the move to ‘seal’ that move. The player must write his move in unambiguous notation on his scoresheet, put his scoresheet and that of his opponent in an envelope, seal the envelope and only then stop the chess clock. Until he has stopped the chess clock the player retains the right to change his sealed move. If, after being told by the arbiter to seal his move, the player makes a move on the chessboard he must write that same move on his scoresheet as his sealed move.

from General handling rules for Swiss Tournaments

Adjourned games are considered draws for pairing purposes only.

Update: I've found a real example in a Catalan tournament (Masdenverge). You can read tournament rules here: http://www.escacsmasdenverge.com/. It was an U-2200 tournament (to allow a 60+30 time control) and three rounds per day were scheduled. See the note where this possible problem is mentioned:

NOTA: Si una partida s'allargara en excés, superant l'hora prevista per a l'inici de la següent ronda, l'àrbitre principal podrà segons el seu criteri, emparellar amb el resultat provisional de taules, a l'efecte de que els altres participants puguen jugar la ronda següent. Quedaran ajornades les partides dels jugadors que estiguen jugant la ronda anterior i una vegada finalitzada, s'unixen a la ronda.

A free English translation:

If a game lasts for too long, exceeding the scheduled time for the start of the next round, the main arbiter may at his discretion, proceed to the pairing with the interim result of a draw, to the effect that the other players can play the next round. Games of the player who are still playing the previous round will be delayed and once these games end they'll join the current round.

As you can see in this case the draw for pairing purposes rule is used, but games are not adjourned but the players will continue to the end, and then they'll join the next round.

  • 1
    Nothing gives the arbiter the "right" to intervene, unless the players are colluding to drag things out. The arbiter must not intervene in a game except in cases described by the Laws of Chess. Aug 16, 2016 at 8:32
  • Yes, but this would be such a case. Otherwise it would be impossible to make a game to last for 24 hours, imho. Of course if it's not the case the arbitrer cannot discalify the players. If you're talking about the adjournement, of couse the arbitrer CAN do it, as the Laws of Chess explicitly say that.
    – sharcashmo
    Aug 16, 2016 at 9:35
  • BTW, @Post-It-Note, I don't fully understand why you focus in the introductory sentence "althought..." when the response to Petrosian question follows inmediately. I read your comments saying exactly the same in the OP and some replies, that's enough for all of us.
    – sharcashmo
    Aug 16, 2016 at 9:45
  • @sharcashmo One player could drag out a game in which they have an overwhelming advantage if they can deny their opponent meaningful moves. Some months ago I ended up in a situation where I had a rook and some pawns vs a lone king. The rook was guarded, the opposing king was absolutely confined to an empty chunk of board and completely unable to influence my actions in the slightest. Mar 16 at 3:20

Well, a game that lasts more than 8 hours would make everyone involved in the tournament tired and angry. Under the assumption of today's normal time controls with 90 minutes for 40 moves followed by 30 additional minutes for the rest of the game and 30 seconds increment per move starting from move one.

It is an impressive effort to reach 24 hours of gameplay. The 50-move rule will be crucial. Most probably, 49 moves would be made with the pieces, followed by pushing one pawn one step forward and thereafter repeating the cycle. Both players would have to be in agreement and collaborate to reach this epic achievement. A slight complication is that you have to write down your move, which decreases your increment to perhaps 25 seconds and also makes your hand(s) more tired.

My guess is that the arbiter would declare a draw, 1-0, 0-1 or perhaps even 0-0 if possible, after about 8 hours of play. The grumpy arbiter would thereafter most probably try to disqualify both players from the tournament.

Since such situations are so rare, FIDE will probably make a decision based on the particular situation in question, without creating new rules or changing the existing ones.

  • 4
    In such a case, where players are cooperating in a farce, the arbiter would disqualify both players for bringing the game into disrepute. And of course it is the 75 move rule which applies in such cases not the 50 move rule. The 50 move rule allows a player to stop the game. The 75 move rule allows the arbiter to stop the game. From Petrosian's description the players are not cooperating. One player is trying to win and one to draw.
    – Brian Towers
    Aug 31, 2015 at 22:07

Technically it is possible for a game to last more than 24 hours

Not true in a game where both players are trying to win or draw. You haven't done your sums.

In an endgame, the player with the advantage will just need to be careful of the fifty-move rule

In 20 hours of 30 second increment play at least 1200 moves have to be played. That is at least 24 times when there is a flurry of captures or pawn moves. I say "flurry" because generally speaking when there is a capture there is also a recapture. There are only 16 pieces and 16 pawns on the board when the game starts and after the first 4 hours of play a lot of them will be gone.

  • 2
    The longest possible chess game (obeying the 50-move rule) is almost 6000 moves, so technically it is possible for a game with 30 second increment to last over 24 hours. This answer is therefore wrong in claiming the impossibility of occurence of the hypothetical situation presented in the question. Of course, games of that length are unheard of and unreasonable, but that is not the subject of this question. Aug 31, 2015 at 18:22
  • @GloriaVictis You didn't read the question. Petrosian is not referring to two players cooperating. He is talking about one player trying to win and the other to draw else he would have been concerned with the 75 move rule not the 50 move rule. 6000 requires one side to capture a piece with a,c,e,g pawns and the other to capture with b,d,f,h pawns to allow pawns to pass and queen. So, of course, your figure of 6000 is also wrong. It would be 9000. But then StudentT's answer would be correct. The arbiter would throw the two players out of the competition for bringing the game into disrepute.
    – Brian Towers
    Aug 31, 2015 at 22:00
  • The 6000 figure was taken from another chess SE question. It does not matter much, it was just to illustrate the point. In any case, it obviously is theoretically possible to make a game last longer than 24 hours, without the two players necessarily cooperating (besides, how do you prove beyond doubt that they indeed are cooperating?). So, the premise of the question/sums are sound. Sep 1, 2015 at 13:45
  • @GloriaVictis " how do you prove beyond doubt that they indeed are cooperating?" Now you're just being silly! To get the maximum number of moves both players have to start the game by making 49 consecutive knight moves before one of them moves a pawn. That kind of pattern is then repeated over and over again. Don't be ridiculous!
    – Brian Towers
    Sep 1, 2015 at 18:26
  • 1
    To put it in context, the longest game ever lasted 269 moves (Nikolic-Arsovic), when the 50-move rule had been modified to 100-move (this adds 50 extra moves to the game). Breaking this record by playing a game 5-6 times longer is not possible unless both players are cooperating.
    – sharcashmo
    Aug 16, 2016 at 10:21

Would the entire round be delayed for everyone participating in the event?

No, if the game duration may exceed a reasonable amount of time (I am not talking about 24 hours, but lets say 12 hours or so) then the game is adjourned and any tournament director would plan a special day for adjourned games. This works perfectly in case of so called Round-robin system tournament. In case if the tournament is played by Swiss system rules then it is simply reasonable to have shorter time limits per game, so all games will end by the end of the next round.

Would the arbiters simply decide to end the problematic game, considering it as a draw?

No, this could never happen! The game can be considered a draw in case, for example one side loses on time while the other side doesn't have sufficient material to mate, i.e. two knights only, etc)

Would the FIDE President need to add a new rule to prevent this kind of situation from happening again?

There is no way to regulate all possible outcomes of bad tournament planning. It's not FIDE responsibility.

  • Games can't be adjourned if there is no rest day and when the players don't agree. It doesn't apply to all cases.
    – SmallChess
    Sep 1, 2015 at 0:43
  • Sure. However, as a tournament director you gotta think of a possible rest/adjourned games day, especially if time controls for the tournament may lead to overly long games. Sep 1, 2015 at 18:01
  • 1
    @StudentT I don't see this anywhere in FIDE rules. Rather, it says that the arbiter can adjourn games "at the end of the time prescribed for play" and there is no "agreement" needed from the players regarding this. Aug 16, 2016 at 8:41

I don't think a player in a tournament with a 90 minute base time and 30 second increments would have an advantage in dragging on a game more than 24 hours. The only way a game could drag on that long is if they have a lot of pawns and very rarely move one forward. If a player can force a game to drag on that long if they haven't won yet, they can probably also force one of their pawns to promote into a queen and then force a win in way fewer moves. That will probably not however stop a player from forcing a game to drag on more than 5 hours in the hope of winning. For that reason, they could add in the extra rule for everybody that if a game doesn't end after 5 hours, it's declared a draw to prevent that problem in the future, and invent a clock that tells them how much time there's left until the game ends. Maybe that rule could even allow the 50 move rule to be taken out of those tournaments without the game dragging on too long, allowing a player to win when they have a forced win in more than 50 moves.

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